Q: How do I know if I have a yeast infection?
The classic symptoms of a yeast infection are vaginal itching and a clumpy white vaginal discharge. Over-the-counter medications generally cure yeast infections, so long as they are used as directed. Itching tends to return if women stop using a cream early. A one-time oral pill can also be used to treat a yeast infection. However, it’s only available by prescription, so patients need to get an appointment with their provider.
It’s not unusual for suspected yeast infections to turn out to be something else. Women who are experiencing symptoms for the first time should always see their provider to rule out other causes. Bacterial vaginosis, allergic reactions or sensitivities, and some sexually transmitted infections, such as trichomoniasis, can have symptoms that are similar to a yeast infection.
Occasionally, over-the-counter treatments don’t work—either because it’s not actually a yeast infection or because it’s a more unusual strain of yeast that needs to be eliminated. In these cases, women should also make an appointment with their provider, rather than treating themselves again.
—Donna Stiles, CNM at Vancouver Clinic
Donna Stiles holds a master of science in nursing with a specialty in midwifery from Saint Louis University.